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Holden’s concept cars could be saved

By Alex Inwood, 28 Feb 2020 News

Holden’s concept cars could be saved

Mike Simcoe is leading the charge to save Holden’s concept cars from being deported

General Motors’ global head of design, Mike Simcoe, is personally overseeing the plan to save and preserve Holden’s Aussie concept cars.

The future of Holden’s priceless concept car collection remains undecided for now but will be locked down in the coming weeks.

It’s understood the collection, which includes halo cars like the Holden Hurricane, Efijy and Coupe 60, will remain in Australia, though Detroit is yet to hand down an official edict.

Read next: Are these the cars that could have saved the General?

High-ranking Holden and GM execs are campaigning hard for the concept cars to remain in Australia. Wheels has been informed GM’s head of design, Aussie Mike Simcoe, is personally overseeing the issue.

Also being discussed is the future of Holden’s larger collection of historical vehicles and extensive archive.

It’s understood an official company bulletin will be released shortly about the future of the cars and the archive.

While GM (not Holden) owns the cars and archive, Holden insiders say it’s unlikely the cars will be sent back to Detroit.

“They don’t have the room in their heritage centre for the cars,” Wheels was told. “I don’t think they’ll be sent to the States. No decision has been made, but they understand the significance of these cars.”

Read next: Holden unveils radical 1000kW ‘Time Attack Concept’ for Bathurst

A GM archivist is visiting Holden in the coming weeks, but not to discuss the future of the car collection. Instead, they’ll be working on digitising Holden’s existing archive. The archivist’s visit was organised before GM had made a decision on Holden’s future.

Holden’s current director of design, Richard Ferlazzo, is personally invested in ensuring the concept cars remain here in Australia. Within GM’s internal structure, it’s the design department that retains ownership and oversight of the concept vehicles.

There are more than a dozen high-profile Holden concept cars currently being kept at the company’s Salmon Street HQ in Port Melbourne. They include the 1969 Hurricane, 1970 Torana GTRX, 1998 Monaro Concept, 2000 Sandman, 2001 Utester, 2002 Commodore SSX, 2004 Torana TT36, 2005 Efijy, and 2008 Coupe 60.

Read next: The Aussie concept cars that were too tough to build

Holden is also in possession of other concepts it built for global GM brands, though these aren’t historical Australian assets.

One piece of legislation that may keep the cars in Australia is the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act. It’s the same law that required Ford to apply for a permit to move its Australian archive overseas in 2016.

If GM confirms the cars will stay in Australia, the most likely outcome is they’ll be loaned to a suitable museum like the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, near Adelaide.

“The National Motor Museum is confident that through its ongoing relationship with GM Holden it will be involved in the dialogue on the future of the Holden heritage collection and the special-interest vehicles that are strongly associated with Australia’s motoring heritage and history,” Paul Rees, Director of the National Motor Museum, said in a statement.

Ferlazzo says there’s minimal chance the cars, which could fetch price tags in the millions of dollars, will be sold.

“Will GM sell them? It’s very unlikely. GM has sold concept cars a few times in the past and I think they’ve regretted it,” said Ferlazzo.

“A plan still needs to be developed but I think the ideal scenario would be one in which many of the heritage vehicles remain here for Australians to admire.

“It would be nice to keep as many of the concept cars together as possible, so it’s a collection people can see in one location. Something like Birdwood is a potential option, given its size.

“Alternatively, they could be sent to different museums around the country and they could rotate them, creating more opportunity for people to see them.

“There are a number of options to consider and we just need time to work through them.”

Wheels understands Holden has already been approached by multiple historians and museums about the future of the archive and cars.

The cars and archive are only one part of the massive clean-up job Holden is facing before it officially ‘retires’ at the end of 2020.